The child narrator in this story has a Want Monster. Want Monsters aren’t bad; everyone has one. However, this one has grown much too big.
The protagonist’s Want Monster, Oskar, is “ginormous.” When the child, depicted as a pale-skinned, freckled stick figure with a large round head and three strands of sticking-up hair, eats a cupcake, Oskar insists on four more. When the child plays a video game, Oskar forces continued play, to the point of repetitive stress injury to the thumbs. The child realizes that always listening to Oskar leads to unhappiness, but fighting or outrunning Oskar is impossible. The child tries instead to just let Oskar be Oskar without always reacting to him. It’s difficult, but over time Oskar shrinks into “Oskarcito,” a tiny Want Monster. Published by a press known for its titles on personal growth and spirituality, this picture book successfully introduces children to the concept of using mindfulness to observe one’s thoughts and desires. With its universal message of taming the impulse to overindulge, this title is relevant for both Buddhist and secular audiences. The humor, bright color palette, and sketchlike quality of the illustrations keep the Want Monsters from being too scary for young readers. However, because the action in the illustrations takes place on just the bottom third of the page, they can at times be hard to read.
A child-friendly introduction to the challenging work of knowing one’s mind. (Picture book. 4-8)